Andrew Douglas

Andrew completed his doctorate in computer science at the University of Kent at Canterbury. He has had a variety of positions including at a government research organisation in Germany, at the University of York as a researcher and at a large internet company as a systems analyst. He recently took the decision to change direction and is now working as a potter.

The following text is a transcription of a career story collected by interview.

"My name is Andrew Douglas, and I am currently a potter working and living near Kings Lynn in Norfolk. I have a PhD in computing science which I did in '90-'94 at the University of Kent in Canterbury. My first degree was in computing science and I did a, a sandwich degree and when I did that I, I was fortunate enough to work for a company in Germany, which was to all intents and purposes a government research organisation. The work that I fell into doing was, was not research but it had a similar kind of what I would, what I thought at the time would, be what it would be like to be doing research.

"I started reading around various sort of bizarre subjects within computer science and got hooked on something called functional programming. Went back to the University and did my final year and then after that I had a choice. Either go through... everybody else was going onto proper jobs. I had a proper job lined up. I didn't want to do that, I wanted to go research. I wanted to do my own thing. Something that was interesting and I had it in my mind that the way to do that was to go on and do a PhD. And that's what I did. The place that I got at Kent was, was almost accidental anyway in that... erm... they'd offered it to somebody else, err, who couldn't come. And they just rang me up in the middle of August and said we've got a studentship for you, come and fill in the forms. So I jumped on a train the next day and went down there and that was that. I was signed up.

"I went on to do a... two years of post doctoral research at the University of York again in something completely different. I... I'd done this PhD in type theory and function of programming and in fact, in fact I hadn't been awarded it at that time, I hadn't even written it up and I just fell out of that, and this offer of two years at York came up doing parallel systems and image processing and I just thought, yeah that sounds brilliant, and that in many ways was more enjoyable than doing the PhD because, err, the way that I actually, being a member of staff I fell into a group of people and, and I, I was much more a member of the team than I was when I was at Kent, which seems a bizarre thing to say. But I think that was just the way it is. I think it's quite exciting really because you know I started out at the age of 22 thinking that's the kind of life I wanted to lead. I wanted to... not interested in doing rogue stuff, I'm interested in, in learning really. That's what it's all about isn't it, it's learning through life. And having those skills to do that. And I guess that's what I got out of my PhD is the ability to learn. I don't regret doing the PhD I think it was a great experience and it was a great time and at that time that's, I enjoyed the subject and that was what I wanted to do.

"I'd always bought a lot of pots. Glassware and you know various works of art and things. Started doing an evening course about four or five years ago and, err, wasn't particularly good at it either when I got there. And erm, all of a sudden things seemed to click and to be able to make them was just a revelation really. This is how I intend to make a living. It's not a very good living, I must admit. It's, you'll never get rich from it. Err, I'm fortunate I'd got to a point in my career where things had started to click and made a bit of money and it just worked out that I could stop and start doing something else instead."